The UK visa processing offices for east and central Africa have been moved from Nairobi in Uganda to Pretoria in South Africa.
A notice in the Nairobi offices last week (September 16th) communicated the change. AllAfrica.com reported that it read: "This is to bring to your attention, the new guidelines for applying for visas to the United Kingdom. These have taken immediate effect. Visa processing has been moved to Pretoria, South Africa. The Nairobi office will no longer process and handle visas."
As a result of the change, many Africans are having to wait longer than usual to receive a UK visa, with surcharges in place for urgent applications. The guidelines state that the minimum processing time for a UK visa is "15 working days from the date of submission of the application to the date of receiving a visa in the Kampala office".
To get a priority visa with a faster processing time, applicants will have to pay an additional £100 on top of the standard fees. Priority applicants tend to be parliamentary staff, MPs and diplomatic and urgent medical cases.
As a result of the changes that are being made to the immigration centres, applicants looking to travel to Britain are being advised to apply for their visa as early as possible and ensure that they leave plenty of time before they need to travel. Another option being put forward to frequent travellers is to apply for a long-term visa in order to avoid making applications every time they need to make a journey.
No explanation has been given as to why the offices are being relocated but it could be related to the austerity measures being introduced by the British government as efforts to cut costs across departments continue to take effect. As part of this, the government is looking to consolidate its overseas visa centres to serve larger areas wherever possible.